Manchester City’s English Premier League title hopes suffered a potentially-decisive blow after they were held by a resolute Stoke FC side on Wednesday.
Newsverge reports that the result meant they missed the chance to cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table.
A win for City would have moved them above Tottenham and into second place but they could not find the attacking spark required to break down a well-drilled Potters side.
City boss Pep Guardiola had said before kick-off that his team could not afford any more slip-ups in their pursuit of the leaders.
Chelsea remain 10 points clear of the chasing pack with 11 games left.
Guardiola’s side were sluggish before the break and, although they improved when David Silva came off the bench in the second half, he could not make the difference.
Silva had City’s best effort when he drilled a low shot a fraction wide after a one-two with Fernandinho.
But, in spite of a flurry of late chances, Stoke keeper Lee Grant’s only save came from a first-half free-kick by Aleksandar Kolarov.
City are still, in theory at least, chasing silverware on three fronts and head to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday before travelling to Monaco in the Champions League on Wednesday.
It is a pivotal week in Pep Guardiola’s first season in English football, but this result means it has started in frustrating fashion.
The attacking verve that had carried City to four straight league wins and seen them hit five goals past Monaco and Huddersfield in the last month was, initially, nowhere to be seen.
Too many misplaced passes meant Stoke were under little pressure for much of the match, and City’s finishing was also wide of the mark when they did create chances late on.
Sergio Aguero had scored five goals in his previous three games but did not find the target with any of his three efforts.
Leroy Sane flashed a shot over the bar, while Nicolas Otamendi headed over from a corner kick.
City’s last chance came and went when Kelechi Iheanacho met an inviting cross at the near post but steered the ball wide.